Things were looking bad around southeast Greenland a few years ago. There, the streams of ice flowing from the great ice sheet into the sea had begun speeding up in the late 1990s. Then, two of the biggest Greenland outlet glaciers really took off, and losses from the ice into the sea eventually doubled. Some climatologists speculated that global warming might have pushed Greenland past a tipping point into a scary new regime of wildly heightened ice loss and an ever-faster rise in sea level.
So much for Greenland’s ice Armageddon. “It has come to an end,” glaciologist Tavi Murray of Swansea University in the United Kingdom said during a session at the meeting. “There seems to have been a synchronous switch-off” of the speed-up, she said. Nearly everywhere around southeast Greenland, outlet glacier flows have returned to the level of 2000. An increasingly warmer climate will no doubt eat away at the Greenland ice sheet for centuries, glaciologists say, but no one should be extrapolating the ice’s recent wild behavior into the future.